Lewis Hamilton attended the 2022 United States Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Lewis, you’ve made various pitstops en route to Austin, including a Broncos NFL game, just how much fun have you been having?
Lewis HAMILTON: I don’t know about the various stops… yeah, I’ve had Tokyo and LA and I got to see the Broncos, got see my team performing. That experience was incredible, to just be in that huge arena. Firstly, the stadium is amazing but just to see a different group of fans, but all with the similarities of the fans that we have here, just passionate about their team, right on the edge of their seats for every single play. And then for me, just like speaking to the coach, speaking to the players, and speaking to the rest of the owners, about the takeover, about the challenges that we have, the things that we need to improve on, like our offences… our defence is really strong but our offence is quite weak at the moment. You’ve got Russell that’s new to the team and he needs more protection. He’s still getting to know a lot of the players around him. And so yeah, I like getting super deep into all that kind of stuff and also into athlete performance because these guys are huge. Some of the guys are over 300 pounds, they’re massive: wouldn’t want those guys to hit you. And then just looking into how I can play a role with that team in terms of supporting them and also the things that we’re going to do with D&I within the community in Denver.
Q: You are going to enjoy your association with that team.
LH: And you know, and Rob and Greg and Carrie and Mellody, they’re all so kind and have achieved so much in their careers so it’s quite amazing to be able to speak to them and learn from them, those people as well.
Q: Let’s bring it on to this weekend. You are a six time winner of the United States Grand Prix, five times here at the Circuit of the Americas. There’s clearly something about this race that brings out the best in you. Would you agree with that?
LH: Yeah, I think just being in the States, I’m very happy when I’m out here. I think already when I came to Indianapolis – was it 2007? – was a good time. But I think this track is very special. Considering it’s a newer circuit it’s one of the best circuits that we have, provides great racing. A single lap is exciting and then we get this crowd that just keeps growing year on year. And they just do it differently here, right? I would say that us Europeans are good… we’re good at sports but there’s things that we’ve learned, I would say, with the partnership with Liberty and I think the sport is growing as a whole in terms of how we put on the show.
Q: And what about performance? You’ve got some upgrades on the car this weekend, what can we expect from you and Mercedes?
LH: You can expect we’re going to try everything, as we always do. I don’t want to get my hopes up with the… a lot of work has naturally gone into the upgrade as it always does. And I’m really, really proud of everybody for the work that’s gone in. But in the past we’ve had expectations: oh, this is going to bring a tenth or whatever it may be, and then we struggle to extract that so I’m just really of a really open mind. I’m hoping our car just in general works better at this circuit. And I’m generally just excited. I did drive here just after Montreal in the old car which is amazing. And they’ve flattened off some of the section like Turn 5, 4 or 5 I think it is and so I’m hoping that’s going to be better for our car.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis, Mercedes is the only team to have beaten Red Bull in the last decade, like since the start of 2010, that’s 12 years now. Do you think that if you’re back in the title fight in the future, Mercedes is the team most likely to beat Red Bull? I mean, I’m sure you want to talk up your own squad naturally but what is it that makes Mercedes so strong compared to say Ferrari, which has shown some weaknesses on many fronts this year? Thanks.
LH: Yeah, that’s a good question. Well, unlike at the beginning of the year, where I said, we don’t make any mistakes, we’re human. And we clearly do. I think, Ferrari will also have people that have been there for over 20 years and we really do have naturally, I think, a lot of strength in depth. I think it’s leadership. We’ve got a great leader. We’ve got amazing support from the Daimler board who all like racing. Passionate racers. And then I think it’s the core group of people. There’s great communication throughout the organisation. Toto is very focused as a leader to really elevate people. I don’t know any other leader that that I’ve worked with at least that that goes and says, ‘hey, how’re things at home?’ How can I help support you better, so you have more time with your wife or your husband or with your partner, with your kids, so that you come to work and be happier and want to commit more. That’s who Toto is. So I think it’s that, and because of that, there’s a real general hunger within the team. So yeah, a combination of those. And I’d, like to think that we’re going to be the ones that are competing with them and being able to beat them again, I do believe that for sure. But I really hope that Ferrari are strong in the following years. They’ve definitely had a difficult year but there’s been some strong signs, obviously, that you’ve seen this year, which has been nice to see. And it’s been nice to see Ferrari doing well again. So I hope that it’s more than a two-way battle next year. I hope there’s at least three of us. If not, surprisingly, maybe more. Like, why can’t McLaren be there? We’ll see. Or even Alpine’s been doing amazing. So we’ll see.
Q: (Jim Vertuno – AP) For Lewis, based on what little information we know at this point, what do you make of the situation and the Red Bull cost cap breach? And what consequences – if any – do you think should be assessed against team or drivers?
LH: I can’t really give you much of an answer. There’s nothing I can say that would be beneficial, it’ll be on the assumption of what may or may not happen. So, I’m not giving it any energy, I’m focused on really continuing to try and gee up the team, really trying to turn this car around. Working on things that I generally can control. Like I’ve said in the past it’s… I think it’s the integrity of the sport is… right now where I think the decisions that hopefully will be made will… I do believe that Mohammed and his team will make the right decisions. I have to believe that. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, naturally. And otherwise, as I said, I’m just focused on doing the best job I can. What they’ve ever done is done.
Q: (Emily Selleck – New York Post) Lewis, we saw the news that W Series had to end its season a few races early. Do you think there should be more of an onus on Formula 1 or the FIA to help out its support series when it’s in dire financial straits? Thanks.
LH: 100 per cent I do. Particularly that. The W Series. There has not been enough focus on women in sport, the whole of Formula 1’s life, and there’s not enough emphasis on it now. And they’re not magnifying enough the great work that is being done there. There is not enough representation across the board, within the industry. And there’s not really a pathway for those young, amazing drivers to even get to Formula 1, and then you have some people who say we’re never going to see a female F1 driver ever. So that’s not a good narrative to be putting out. So I think we need to be doing more, and with the organisation, with Formula 1 and Liberty doing so well it’s not a lot for them to be able to help out in that space. And I think we need to be doing more to encourage…I mean, in the work I’m trying to do with Mercedes for example, we’re trying to get like 8000 young girls into the sport – but every team should be doing that.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, just going back to the cost cap breach. Some people, particularly I guess, your fans, say that last season’s results should be even reversed, given that Red Bull were in breach of the cost cap. Is that something you agree with? Just your thoughts on that really.
LH: Well, firstly, I love my fans. I love how passionate they are. So, I’ve not been really… I’ve heard the things that have been said. I’m generally looking forwards. I’m looking at how I can win another Championship. I’m not… I have my own opinions of what we did as a team and how we did it last year. And I’m really proud of that. And, belief in what we earned. It doesn’t really change a huge amount. I do think that sport needs to do something about this in the future otherwise, if it’s quite relaxed… if they relax with these rules, then all the teams would just go over, spending millions more and then only having a slap on the wrist, is obviously not going be great for the sport. They might as well not have a cost cap in the future. So, yeah… that’s all I’ve got to say.
Q: (Katie Barnes – ESPN) This question is for Lewis. I noticed that Mission 44 is hosting a number of black engineering students here this weekend, wondering if you can say more about who those students are, and the change that you’re hoping to create through the programme that you’re using to host them?
LH: Yeah, so very proud. I got to speak to just over 100, I think… I ended up speaking to 90 of them because some of them go into the garage today. But I was able to… with the agreement of Stefano, I was able to bring some of these young students in. Youngsters that have never seen Formula 1 before, with the ultimate goal of really just continuing to highlight to them that there is space for them within engineering. Most of them probably not realise that through STEM subjects, there is a pathway into engineering and this is somewhere one day they can work. There are lots of other directions, you can go with STEM, with those as qualifications. So, my ultimate goal in the future… while at the moment, Mission 44 is based in the UK, I do want to expand it to over here in the States and hopefully into Africa at some stage. And it’s again, just working on improving representation. It’s about really improving the pipeline, Mission 44, really the core pillars are really about progression, empowerment, and really just, as I said, just trying to change and transform the lives of the youth that facing discrimination and disadvantage.
Q: (Jonathan Steel – Formula 1 News Hour) Juan Fangio. I watched an interview with him back in 1962-63. And he’s said that the team was 65% responsible for winning races, and the driver was responsible for the 35%. And he said that he expected that to change over the years. Where do you think that percentage would lay today? What percentage is the team responsible for winning races? And what percentage would you say you as drivers are responsible?
LH: It’s impossible to say what the number is really. There is no I in team, and there is no one individual that’s bigger than any other people within the organisation. Yes, the one that gets to sit in the car is a part of bringing the attraction, and obviously putting the finishing touches to the amazing creation of all the people that you get to work with, but I think it’s silly putting numbers on it, because it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t make any difference, does it? At the end of the day, it is a team and every single person in the team has to be pulling, when we’re rowing all together, in the right direction with the same amount of might.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Lewis, picking up on your comment about the integrity of Formula 1. We’re currently enjoying this massive boom – three races in the US from next year, I think 440,000 fans over three days this weekend. This integrity, how important is it that we don’t undo so much of the good work that’s gone on for F1 in the last five years with things such as cost cap breaches, the crane incident and Suzuka for example?
LH: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think the sport’s trying to make mistakes, but we’re going to continue over the years to be coming up against things and hurdles. But I do think when we talk about integrity, it’s how we navigate through those whilst keeping the core values, while being transparent. And being true to the values of what the sporting regulations have put there to be policed. And I think, you know, it can be a confusing time for fans. Without the fans, the sport is nothing. So, yeah, I think we’ve just got to hold on to those values.
Q: (Elizabeth Blackstock – Road and Track) I have a question for Lewis. You’ve been one of the more censured drivers regarding social media in the past years, but you’ve also become kind of a paragon of how social media should be used for Formula 1 drivers. How do you think that use of social media has helped to impact the growing popularity of Formula 1, especially here in America?
LH: Well, thank you. I think it’s been an interesting journey in trying to understand… We all have a platform, right. We all have, I’m sure, social media and we’re all learning how to utilise it. We all use it in different ways and for different reasons. I think what I would say that I’ve learned is how to be more vulnerable, how to share more with people. I’m noticing so many people having the same experiences that I’m having and messages I get and the messages I give… I think, for example, in Formula 1 there’s only 20 of us, and we’re kind of you know, people see us on TV and you almost seems so far out of reach, it’s impossible to meet, you know, and we’re only humans, you know. We go through the same human emotions and experiences other people do in public. And I think that’s the one thing that social media has enabled me to share, because I don’t think it’s easy to do through a camera, as such, and through interviews, necessarily. So it’s been my medium to be able to control that narrative and share the journey with them, because this has been an amazing 15 years. I have grown with so many people that are within the sport. It’s a huge big family. And then there’s those that come to these races year-on-year and save up to come with their families and that, and regardless of the result they’re right there with you on the edge of their seat. So it’s quite a privileged position.